We have just completed two years as full-time travelers. As I continue making a series of articles on frequently asked questions we get, I thought this would be a good time to answer the question “How much money have you spent traveling”? We traveled through South America during or first year of travel. And then went to Southeast Asia for our second year. In this article I’m going to break down our spending category by category so that you can see just how much we have spent as full-time travelers.
If you would rather watch a video to find out how much we have spent traveling instead of reading this article, click here: Cost Of Full Time Travel
Housing and Accommodation: US$658
Our spending on housing and accommodation has averaged $658 per month. We are slow travelers. We’ll usually stay in an apartment somewhere about a month before we move on to our next destination. We save quite a lot of money by getting a monthly discount when we rent through Airbnb, anywhere from 20%-40% off by doing this kind of long-term rental. We generally rent one-bedroom apartments, but sometimes we’ll stay in a studio and sometimes we’ll get a two-bedroom or rarely even a three-bedroom depending on what is available and the cost.
Our most expensive apartment was in Lima, Peru. This was our first destination when we started our world travel adventure. That one-bedroom was $770 per month, but it was in a nice upscale neighborhood. Our least expensive apartment was in George Town Malaysia. Here we found a big discount on a two-bedroom in a historic, traditional building. We paid only $344 for a one month rental here. (These housing costs that I’m giving include utilities, internet, and the Airbnb booking and cleaning fees.)
The amount we have spent traveling on food is actually a little bit more than what we spent living in the U.S., but I used to get free lunch from my job. As travelers we do most of our own cooking in our apartment with food that we buy from the grocery store. We do go out to eat in a restaurant maybe once or twice per week. And I should also say that we are not big eaters. We usually eat a full lunch, but breakfast and dinner are very light if we even have breakfast or dinner at all.
We do like to try the local foods, and we know that is part of the travel experience. But at the same time we are not super adventurous when it comes to eating things that would be really bazaar to us (like bugs). Of the $349 per month we have averaged on food, that breaks down into $228 for food that we cook ourselves from the grocery store and $121 per month for eating out in restaurants.
This is much less than the cost of owning a car back in the U.S. We prefer trains and buses over flying, but we also don’t like overnight bus trips so we’ll take a flight if we need to in order to avoid a very lengthy bus ride. At last count, over our two-year travel adventure so far, we have taken 11 flights, 26 buses, 5 trains, and 3 boats to get from place to place. (I’m probably off a little on these numbers).
Health Care: US$208
This might sound like a lot to some people, but to us as Americans this is nothing. This $208 breaks down to $183 per month for our insurance coverage, which would be at least 5 times higher if we were paying full price for insurance back home. And then $25 for things like doctors appointments and medication. We did pay for some of our appointments using our HSA account so that $25 would have been a bit higher otherwise. We are most impressed with the health care in Thailand and Malaysia. These countries have health care with excellent quality and so much cheaper than what we’d pay back home. Emily also had a good dental experience in Lima, Peru.
Next we have all the other expenses for things that don’t fit into other categories, like clothes. (We don’t buy a lot of clothes because then we have to carry them). But this is also for things like, toiletry items, toothpaste, our mail service back home to handle our mail, and maintaining our website. And I did buy a new camera while on the road, also a new backpack, and just all those extra types of things.
This is something we enjoy doing. We like to help out when we can. And not just through financial giving but also through donating our time and volunteering as well.
Activities, Tourism, and Entertainment: US$185
And our last category is for things like entrance fees to tourist sites, an occasional guided tour, shows, concerts, etc. Our most expensive activity was a fabulous hot air balloon ride over some of the thousands of temples scattered around Bagan in Myanmar. This cost $700 for the two of us. Our second most expensive activity was for the amazing lantern festival in Thailand at $300 for two.
So that answers the question “How much have you spent traveling?” FYI those numbers are pretty evenly balanced between South America and Southeast Asia. And another common question that we get is: how are you paying for this if you don’t have a job? We did quit our jobs, but we lived very frugally for many years. The two of us saved our pennies so that we could have this big travel adventure now.
I want to mention that our goal as we travel is not to travel as cheaply as possible. We could do this much more cheaply if we really wanted to and still be comfortable. But that’s not our goal. Our goal is to stay on our budget, which we have been able to do this entire time.